What's with all the fish in China?
Nothing in China is taken for granted. Every step, design, and decoration is carefully considered before taking form in reality. The reason for this is that the Chinese people assign meaning to everything; from how the chopsticks are left at the end of a meal, to the inclusion of fish-filled waters in many places.
Wandering around China, I cannot help but notice that fish are everywhere. You don’t have to go far to find ponds, streams, rivers, fountains or simpler still; fish bowls. You’re sure to find some water feature included in most Chinese places, and quite often, there resides a fishy-friend or two.
There are a large number of fish living in a pond at the school where I work. The pupils often feed the fish with bread during lunch or after school. If you walk over to the pond, the fish swim up to the surface in eager groups, waiting to be fed. They seem quite friendly for fish!
Similarly, on a trip to a local nursery to buy some plants, I noticed a small pond that ran around the store, and in it swam more fish. The pond, though small, was deep, and in it, some of the fish had grown to at least three foot! I have seen fish kept in bowls on tables in many hotels and restaurants, and many Chinese families keep aquariums at home.
So what’s with all the fish?
This all comes down to the traditional Chinese practice of Feng Shui; an ancient philosophy based on the idea of exchanging energies. It is believed that having knowledge of the natural energies in life can bring good fortune and harmony to a person by harnessing the positive energy.
Water is one of the five key elements in Feng Shui, representing renewal and release. Fish are symbolic of wealth. Adding fish to a pond or an aquarium to the home is thought to bring wealth. Sometimes, the number of fish in a pond or aquarium has meaning too. Eight gold fish and one black fish in an aquarium are thought to be lucky as the gold fish encourages wealth, while the black fish wards off evil.
As fish seem to bring positive energy, I think it’s time I head to the pet shop and add some lucky fish to my home!